How to Deal with Road Rage

Dealing with emotions can be tricky business, especially when it comes to controlling irritation or disappointment. It can be hard to restrain yourself and behave appropriately when you feel like acting out. Some psychologists think that holding everything inside you is a bad habit, but taking out your anger on innocent people around you can be even worse and have bitter consequences. And the road is definitely the last place where you should take revenge for annoying and unfair matters. Your emotional outbursts can turn into road rage and result in unnecessary danger or destruction.

Have you ever experienced the strong temptation to yell at another driver, honk at a bicyclist, or flip off a yawning pedestrian? If you’ve ever been unable to control your temper and done any of the above, I am sure you realized later that it was not the best or most effective solution.

Aggressive driving and other actions behind the wheel that endanger yourself and others are called road rage. Essentially, road rage is aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other motor vehicle. Such behavior might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, making threats, yelling, tailgating, or frequently honking the horn. This driving pattern often leads to altercations with other road users, assaults, collisions, injuries, and even deaths. But what’s more disturbing is that road rage is on the rise, especially among young drivers.

To avoid becoming a victim of other drivers’ road rage, you should stay away from it. If you are on the road and see an aggressive driver near you, keep your distance and don’t engage them—this is the best way to avoid the negative outcomes of someone else’s dangerous actions.

  • If you are traveling in the left lane, and someone is tailgating you, move to the right lane and let the car behind you go. If there is a narrow street, safely pull over and let the other driver pass you.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, and constantly scan the road ahead and behind you to ensure a safe traveling distance.
  • Do not establish any contact with aggressive drivers. Remember, one angry driver can’t start a fight unless another one is willing to join in. Reacting to someone’s rude gestures can spark your anger and dangerously distract you from keeping your eye on the road.

If you know your temper and feel like you fall into a category of drivers with road rage, try to stay reasonable and do not let your emotions and moods take over when you’re driving.

  • If you feel angry or upset, it’s better not to drive. It will be hard to concentrate on driving if you are overwhelmed with other thoughts.
  • Re-examine your own driving behavior. We tend to think only of others as dangerous and aggressive drivers. We almost never doubt our own skills, thinking that our little mistakes will pass unnoticed. But even  “innocent” mistakes and blowups can cause risky driving and can turn into an unpredictable game of chance.
  • Forget about winning. For way too many motorists, driving becomes a contest of racing against time or against other drivers on the road.
  • Take a refresher course. In most states these courses are called defensive driving courses. They help you review aspects of road safety and update you on changing traffic rules and driving issues. The course usually takes just a few hours and luckily for everyone, modern technology allows you to take courses online right from your home or any other place, whenever you have some free time. Defensive driving programs are a great investment, too: the money you spend on learning about defensive driving can help you avoid the larger costs of tickets or traffic misdemeanors.

Our emotions and sudden feelings, whether good or bad, come and go, but the impact of road rage can last forever. So don’t let the momentary madness drag you into big trouble.